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Posted by on Jan 29, 2009 in Economy, Politics | 1 comment

Quote Of The Day: Obama, The GOP, The Stimulus Vote And The “Big Fat 0”

The new and old media are abuzz over yesterday’s clearcut House of Representatives vote that passed President Obama’s stimulus plan, getting zero Republican votes despite the new Prez’s steadfast efforts to woo GOPers into making it a bipartisan effort. Passions on each side are now running extremely high, with each side seeing the other in a kind of mirror image (the one constant is assuming the other side was acting in bad faith or playing power games rather than voting entirely on core beliefs).

It’s raising questions about how big a tent some Democrats will allow — and whether today’s GOP is now a tent that doesn’t seek to expand beyond the Rush Limbaugh show’s listenership demographic. The latter question is underscored by a new Gallup Poll study showing Republicans highly unpopular in most part of the country and Democrats ahead in every state except Alabama, Kansas, Nebraska, Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.

It’ll may take weeks (if ever) before reality reveals which assumptions by which side of partisans were correct on this vote. But our political Quote of the Day should spur discussions on both sides along. Here are two quotes from MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro, whose First Read is required reading for political junkies:

*** The big, fat O: Despite Obama traveling to Capitol Hill to meet with them in private, despite including one of their former members (Ray LaHood) in his cabinet, and despite inviting their leaders over for cocktails last night at the White House, not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus package, which cleared the House yesterday by a 244-188 vote. Predicting that GOP outcome before the vote, the Washington Post notes, House Republican Leader John Boehner put his finger and thumb together to signal the big, fat “O” — zero. House GOP leaders seemed to go out of their way to make sure reporters knew the message they were sending was directed at Speaker Pelosi, not the president. (As one snarkily noted to First Read, the president met with House Republicans on the stimulus bill more times than Pelosi did). But how closely does the American public follow congressional politics? Won’t this look like they are snubbing a president who just days ago reached out to them? Republicans are taking a risk by looking so defiant, especially if this package ends up working. The last thing Republicans need is another “O” — obstructionist” — being tagged to them.

My view: I’ve long argued that perception is reality in politics and in all media. The Crocodile Hunter had an image easy to immediately grasp by his image and persona which could be captured in quick sound bites and images. Obama, Hillary Clinton and others mastered the art of instant imagery communication as well. Hollywood uses “high concept” to market films all the time (in its ads and short TV trailers). The danger for GOPers is that they know they already have the choir. Will the new, unified GOP voting in a bloc convince people who don’t already vote for them that they’re correct or will it turn out to be a merely group reaffirmation exercise that will turn off more voters clamoring for the government to do something?

The bottom line is that Nancy Pelosi is simply not a household name to many (unless she decides to go on Dancing With The Stars), except to talk show listeners, political junkies of all ages, journalists and blog readers and writers. The IMAGES now out there of the GOP are of a party that seems to have adopted Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug slogan “Just Say No.” Partisans will debate if that’s true or not, but that is the danger of this image — IF it looks like the program starts working.

The second intriguing quote deals with yet another Obama olive branch:

*** Another Obama olive branch: That said, in his statement last night, Obama said that he wants “to strengthen” the stimulus plan before it gets to his desk. It was an interesting word choice and yet another olive branch to House Republicans. (And get this — Obama didn’t include the words “Democrat” or “Democratic” in his statement.) There are a number of Democrats scratching their heads at the House GOP goose egg; we even learned that LaHood was calling his fellow House Republicans asking for them to support the legislation. After all, the president has a 70% job approval rating and the package itself has the support of a majority of Americans, who in general appear to believe they want government to do something — rather than nothing — when it comes to the economy. Interestingly, the president may have his own issues to deal with in his own party. The more defiant Democrats are thinking, “I told you so,” when it comes his GOP outreach efforts. In addition, we’ve been hearing chatter from congressional Democrats that they’d like the president to act as concerned about winning their support as he acts when it comes to the Republicans. Meanwhile, a coalition of liberal groups is launching a new ad campaign that urges moderate Republican senators to support the economic stimulus.

This is not news…really. It has long been predicted by some analysts that if Obama got into power and had a big Democratic majority in Congress he was not just going to have to mend fences with and try to win the support of the Republicans, but he was going to have to control his own Democrats IF he intended to chart a centrist course. Being a centrist often means being disliked by both sides.

Obama isn’t disliked by both sides.